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Scribed by Erla

Spring 1257 AD

Apparently it’s my turn to write here. I see other wizards tend to kick-off by waffling about the ‘solemn duty’ of faithfully and accurately recording our history. History is a funny old thing though. Some interpret this duty as a charge to laboriously record every decision of council, others try to document events by emulating the bards and storytellers, whilst others have blethered about trivia – but each ignores the fact that they inevitably distort the truth. What writers have left out of this journal is more important than what they chose to record, I’ll warrant!

So what’s the history of our covenant? Is it the covenant services completed or how much money was granted by the Pontifex? Well, if you think so – tough luck! Life, even with the benefit of a longevity potion, is too short to be bothered by such wearisome thoroughness. You’re stuck with my take on the world and what I think is important. What I write here will not be the truth, because it’s impossible to record the truth. What I record here will be entirely as biased and blinkered as what has gone before – but hopefully won’t take you too long to read.

Amabila suffered a setback last year and appears to have lost the support by the faeries, but she’s still a threat. There’s a chance that she’s been using Beddwyn’s staff to move within the shadows of the trees and may be hiding out in the evil aura of the dell. There’re no tracks around the area, but dogs picked up on the scent of a woman nearby. Given this, you might expect the Archimagus Flambeau to be counselling an attack upon this infernal dell – but he wants more evidence before committing to that fight. He’s worried that the declining influence of the Anu – whose trees guard that place – means the infernal power has grown stronger there. He’s unwilling to risk the chance that we’d become ensnared by illusions and end up killing each other (He’s probably right).

Our Aegis protects us here, but we’ve seen how vulnerable our mundane allies are. So we’ll keep a close eye on Lydney – taking it in turns to spend a season down there to watch over the place. We need to keep the newly re-opened mines safe if we’re to avoid running out of money. Despite the former allies now fighting in the faerie regio, there’s always a chance that either Amabilia or the Erechwydd might attack. At least we were wise enough to make a pact with the werewolves and offer them a home there. If Amabilia does come looking for more victims to refashion into spiders, she’ll have a bit of a nasty shock.
Later in the season, Zephyrus brought news that an emergency tribunal will be held at Blackthorn in summer. The principal matter will be the return of Damain-Alledd. No doubt the discovery that the ‘Brothers in Christ’ are devil worshippers will also be discussed. Edith will want to use this welcome piece of evidence at the Grand Tribunal against those wizards who believe the Order should be exclusively Christian and who wish to make peace with the brotherhood. Ideally we need confirmation of their diabolism from a Quaesitor – but given House Guernicus conspires with that sect it seems unlikely that any other than Faelon would grant the judgement we want.

Maximus returned at the end of the season. His pilgrimage utterly failed and he did not reach Rome. Sergeant Tenney died on the return journey, apparently killed by Unseelie fae. It’s a pity. Tenney was a good solider and we don’t have so many of them these days. Certainly not so many that we can afford to carelessly throw their lives away on pointless religious quests.

Summer

Pagan ritual activity has resumed in Lydney. There was concern that this group might fall under the sway of the Erechwydd again. Council decided that Astrius and his Amicus (Idnedd I think his name is) would investigate (an absurd decision given that one of them is likely behind the resumption of the activity in the first place!).

Maximus brought back a donkey from his travels and announced plans to take it as a familiar. Given what an ass the man is, I see it as a good match. Ha ha ha.

There was discussion about the emergency tribunal. It should come as no great surprise that we will use the diabolism discovered at Huntley Priory to ask for a motion calling for a wider investigation into the links between the infernal and the Brothers in Christ sect.

Early in the season, Astrius called us all to announce that Idnedd had indeed set up the pagan cult at Lydney (what a surprise!). The cult is not worshipping the Erechwydd, but is honouring the other gods – including Gofannon. Maximus and Lysimachus quickly condemned this. Their concerns no doubt sharpened by their Christian dogma. Astrius said he would speak to Syrentia about the potential dangers and report back in autumn (bizarrely the Christians agreed - it’s hard to believe the Archimaga will give advice that the Archimagus will not like!).

The first attempt to investigate Huntley Priory revealed monks have returned to the site. Somehow, Astrius managed to accidentally truss Maximus up in webs. The Quaesitor took flight (literally, he used a flying spell) and injured himself amongst the tree branches. Between the loud spell casting and the fog that Astrius conjured to cover their escape, it seems hard to believe that any Brothers in Christ amongst the monks wouldn’t notice that wizards had been skulking around!

Despite this comedy of errors potentially raising the alarm, the second attempt to infiltrate the priory proved more successful. Maximus reported a sigil of strange lettering attached to the shadow of a non-Hermetic spell intended to communicate with demons. Indeed, the Quaesitor suggested that the lettering was some sort of infernal language (I guess a ‘good Christian’ like him would know!). Maximus also reported seeing an ‘aura’ of golden light around the head of one of the monks. His attempts to interpret this satisfied no one.

Husam brought us some news from the region. It seems there are rumours that these new monks at Huntley Priory healed some sick child at Ross on Wye and have already won some friends – notably the Knight of Mitcheldean. There’s also word upon the Survey of Royal Provision, with Chepstow recently assayed. It seems likely that Lydney will be assessed at some point. We’ll seek to ensure that this survey of wealth and holdings is conducted by the magistrate ‘Bernard de Birmingham’ (Maximus’ pseudonym when he struts around as a magistrate). The war against Llewellyn appears to have stalled. Eleanor’s armies have captured the major towns and castles in the south, but make no move to challenge his power in the north of the principality. It seems there is some political tension between the Earl of Gloucester and the Baron of Monmouth. Eleanor apparently heeded the Baron’s military advice over that of the Earl and this has led to the latter becoming envious (as tedious, self-important nobles are prone to do).

The emergency tribunal at Blackthorn was a relatively short affair and not well attended. Edith secured agreement for a pact with Loch Leglean against the rogue wizard claiming to be Damain-Alledd. When Damain-Alledd moves against one of the tribunals, the other will rally to assist. Tribunal services have been set for the construction of items which may be used to attack him and his allies, or for the defence of covenants.

The tribunal also charged the Quaesitori to find evidence of the links between the infernal and the ‘Brothers in Christ’ sect. Finally, it elected Astrius, Theophilus and Liberata as our representatives at the forthcoming Grand Tribunal. Astrius and Liberata are good choices. I’m less certain of Theophilus’ grasp on politics. It would have been wiser to send Lysimachus I think – but for some reason he chose not to stand. Still, Edith will be there to ensure that he knows which way to vote on the key issues that affect Stonehenge!

Autumn

More news at the start of the season. Husam reported that with the Welsh now retreating northwards, Eleanor seeks to commission new castles to defend the lands of the south. It seems that this will open up lucrative markets for us, but also likely bring new taxes as well.

In Bristol, it seems that ‘The Italian’ (Husam’s former companion, now arch-nemesis, Girardino) has been frustrated in his efforts to secure control over all the criminal gangs. A man named Hereward leads a small rival group of cut throats and thieves outside his control – despite what appears to have been an overt assassination attempt which resulted in a fire which brought down a fair number of buildings in the north of the city. There appear to have been confirmed sightings of the vampire called Dougal, though Husam wasn’t able to say whether Duncan (Maximus’ former bodyguard – now also a vampire – spotted a pattern yet?) or the White Lady are still in the settlement.

Astrius reported that he’d spoken to Syrentia and that she felt the pagan cult at Lydney would likely help stabilise our relationship with Gofannon (Gosh, what a surprise … the Archimaga of House Merinita approves of faerie worship!). Maximus and Daedalus were vocal in continued protest, but a vote to ‘discontinue the cult in Lydney’ failed when the council split three verses three (nice bit of politics there Astrius!). Syrentia also suspects that Amabila will probably still have the ability to use the powers of Bethwyn’s staff despite her ‘falling out’ with the faerie powers in the regio (the Archimaga has an impressive aptitude for telling us what we already know).

Lysimachus mentioned some sort of water spirit had been sighted in the Severn near Lydney (he called it an Elemental). He said it appeared not to be any kind of spy (we’ve heard Damain-Alledd is an elementalist after all) and, whilst “playful” (it attacks barges on the river), doesn’t represent any sort of threat to the covenant or the village. There appeared to be no appetite for tracking down and destroying this entity (I guess we’ll wait until people start drowning in the river or it sinks our barge before we do anything about it).

***
Well, this has been an interesting day!

The first I knew that something was up was when Agnes (dear, mad Agnes - whose usual mode of communication, it must be said, rarely strays from maniacal cackling and occasionally lewd observations about the men-folk) bounded up to me with some confused tale of a vision she’d had. I scurried down to find Blanche, who is also blessed with the sight but is capable of expressing herself cogently, who confirmed she’d had a strange dream in which a raven cried out and all the trees around us suddenly blossomed. I questioned some of the grogs around the covenant and discovered that some of the sensitive amongst them had also seem portents and received strange visions – all very exciting, but what does it mean?

It also appears that the trees which form our walls have suddenly regained their magical power. Once they hid the gate and the presence of the tower within, but since the death of Aeddyn and Urbanus their powers had faded.

Making our way out to the spring that evening, there was further evidence that something had changed. The waters once turned crimson at the equinox and delivered corporem vis, but had not for some years – however, as we arrived it was veritably gushing with what looked like blood. It didn’t take long for the other magi to check some of our other magical sites: Astrius returning from the heart of the forest with a small sack full of acorns and Lysimachus reporting that the Trellech stones were marvellously covered in lichen.

Something has woken the Old Gods again – I’m sure of it. Why has this happened now? What’s changed? One thing is for certain though – there’ll be the hand of a wizard in this somewhere – somebody here knows more than he’s telling (for my money that wizard will be Astrius).

Winter

It’s fair to say that the council was in a fairly buoyant mood as we counted up the vis collected last season and looked forward to seeing what the Boar Tide might bring at the solstice. Other than the aura remaining the same, it seems that we have recovered much of our magical losses. Astrius appeared to confirm that he Old Gods have come back again (though he didn’t offer an explanation as to why – but I’m sure he knows).

Maximus has completed the Survey of Royal Provision for the Briavel and Lydney under his guise as magistrate. The records now show that Blacknee is deserted, so we might expect our taxes to fall at some point (though castle building is expensive and goes on for years and years – so then again we might not).

Lysimachus had come back from the King’s College in Gloucester where he’d found the blight in his room had escalated to some great corruption. Maximus saw lots of evil spirits in the room and suggested that some ‘great sin’ was the cause of this rot (I wonder what ‘sin’ Lysimachus has committed?! How intriguing – never thought he’d have it in him, frankly). He apparently tried using some old ritual from the library that is said to suppress infernal auras.

There was also tale of two scholars who were secretly attempting to brew some alchemical elixir of youth. One of them met a sticky end (aged prematurely to death) and the other one fled. Lysimachus thinks it is the work of the demon that skulks around the university tempting scholars with dangerous knowledge.

Zephyrus turned up later in the season (interestingly he had to be led to find the gate again). Apparently there’s been some in-fighting in Iberia and two members of Ex-Miscellanea and a Criamon were murdered whilst trying to protect a library in the city of Saragossa (never heard of it myself). It’s possible this was committed (or at least aided) by some Jerbiton and Flambeau magi who were helping Christians armies to crush this Moorish stronghold. This sounded quite alarming, but Iberia is apparently south of us, a long way over the seas – so this shouldn’t affect us directly.

There was also news that Eleanor has commissioned a new gold coin to be minted. Oh yes, and that a war has broken out between the cities of Genoa and Venice (Zephyrus was kind enough to reassure me that these cities are even further away overseas – near the Rome tribunal).

Disappointingly, the Boar Tide produced no vis again. It seems that although the Old Gods are once more awake, the faeries still have not made peace with us.

That’s my job done then. Writing in Latin is such a tedious chore!
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